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Adventures in Kundalini

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I am not generally one to share my spiritual experiences with the world as they seem to be small stepping stones to something much bigger that will never be put into words. When the stories are of the lives of great saints I find them to be a source of inspiration as well as positive entertainment on some level. I am definitely no saint, but there has been one experience that I haven’t been able to shake my entire life and it has fueled me ever since it happened. I hope it may be of some use to people so I offer it here as a look into a common aspirants experience with the divine. My introduction to anything eastern came when my high school English teacher ( r.i.p. Mr. Bucek) introduced us to eastern thought through Herman Hesse, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and some long dictionary entry on Hinduism. Up until that point I was a frustrated punk rock kid running around the suburbs of Chicago, playing in bands, not understanding the material culture that surrounded me and all the other cliché’s that come with being a frustrated suburban punk rock kid. When I heard about “the end of suffering” in one class reading it was as if some light was turned on in me. I could literally feel a presence outside the classroom window of that Midwestern spring day. It is a presence that I have found in many different ways and places since, though it always has a similar feeling about it. It was that day that I first became aware of this something far beyond my own little worries and concerns. After six years of lightly dabbling with some meditations and introductory books, renouncing western philosophy as severely limited in approach, and dismantling any faith in government or politics thanks to Noam Chomsky, I was primed for placing my hands on a Jiddu Krishnamurti book in Borders during freshman year of college. I read one page and knew that I had found exactly what I needed. There was no mincing of words in his philosophy and he sought to give you it all or give you nothing. For the uninitiated, there is a large storehouse of his works on-line. I devoured everything I could read by him for the next few years. Slowly breaking down my own mental constrictions and having lots of strange experiences along the way that suggested something was indeed happening – I just had no Idea what. I could see what he was talking about, how much our minds and thoughts limited us, screwed up our relationships and society, how trapped we were by our own making. I could also see that there was no single action we could take that would free ourselves as it would only be a projection of our own ego. Yet I couldn’t live it. He always said it would come in a flash. I had many small flashes, some visions, and some clarity at times. But it was very fleeting and momentary. I felt like I was just scratching the surface of this immensity that he was speaking about. One evening I was laying down to go to sleep, looking out my window and just watching my thoughts as I normally would. I do not know what strange force of grace or random blip of neural programming took place that night, but anything I ever thought I was disappeared. It was as if the carpet had been pulled out from under my small conception of self and now there was nothing but this vast ocean of energy. My body was there no doubt, but I had lost all sense of myself as separate from anything around me and it was absolutely blissful. Needless to say it is really impossible to describe what that state was like, and even my poetry degree can’t save me now. I could see hallways leading into my chest and a small light where my heart should have been, the walls moving about as if made of jello. The porch lights from the neighbor’s yard were spinning around like kinetic angels that had stepped out of a futurist painting. It felt like centuries had passed and civilizations had been dissolved before my feet and yet it was nothing compared to the immensity of what existed at that moment. All the dramas and thoughts of anything that had ever happened were just so small compared to this awareness of the infinite I was in the middle of. It was completely timeless. It was completely blissful. There was no need to do or be anything. When the sun started coming up and I hadn’t slept a wink, I realized that something very significant had happened as the passage of time escaped me. I had no frame of reference for what was going on, nor what I needed to do anymore. It was very clear that it was some sort of spiritual experience, but I was literally done with everything that had happened up to that point. It happened in a flash - like he said. Since I didn’t know who to talk to, I went to my computer and started looking up flights to head to California where I could find the Krishnamurti people as I figured they must have some answers! That’s when my mom walked in. She asked me what I was doing up so early. I tried to explain. It didn’t work. She thought I was completely nuts. In some ways I was, but I started to realize that this new me was going to have a difficult time explaining the state I was in and what exactly happened to the old me. Problem was they wouldn’t understand unless they came over to the other side too… She started crying. Then I started crying. I wasn’t going to California, not then at least. That’s when the troubles began. Perhaps if I ever feel important enough to write a book I’ll detail everything that happened after that but let’s just say it slowly devolved over the course of a few days with me not needing to eat or sleep, yet having unbounded strength and energy. I was starting to say goodbye to my friends since however they had known me was not there anymore. I could see all the truths of the scriptures as clear as day. When I looked at the Sun I felt no separation, I was the Sun and it was me. There was no go between – just pure energy. Eternity was then. Now. No one saw it. No one even cared to try to see it. They were too busy running their cars around and shoving their faces with food. It was sad. It was frightening. Some of my friends were trying to understand what I was going through and were actually sympathetic to what I was trying to share as this was completely out of character for me. My parents were completely freaked out and had to give me a sleeping pill that would literally shut my mind off for a few hours so my body would stop moving, and a few hours later I would wake up and jump out of bed and continue on my mission until they gave me another pill. When my closest friend gave me the spiritual music of Arvo Part that was based on the life of Jesus , all sorts of wheels started to turn in my head. That’s when it got weird. Between not eating or sleeping much, having no guidance through a spiritually potent experience and a penchant for philosophy, what started off as bliss turned into a nightmare. I started thinking I was the second coming. That’s when my parents called an ambulance to come get me. They were convinced I was taking drugs despite my constant suggestions that I knew what I was talking about. I can’t blame them. After a negative drug test at the hospital and me jumping up and down on the hospital bed since I thought my dad was in cahoots with the devil for trying to stop my mission, they had to strap me down in leather and give me a horse tranquilizer to calm me down. There was so much energy running through my system that while it slowed me down it didn’t put me out. But it did make me realize that I had to chill out as it was “what God wanted me to do” to fulfill my mission. They promptly sent me to the mental ward to be treated for schizophrenia. I’d like to intervene for those of you who are thinking I’m a complete nutbag at this point. I understand. I was. However what those around me at the time didn’t understand (self-included) was that I was having a kundalini awakening. This is the dormant energy at the base of your spine that is responsible for all spiritual and even mental evolution of human beings according to the yogic system and can become activated by a variety of means (i.e. Jesus likely had an awakened kundalini). Most people interested in yoga have perhaps heard of it or passed it off as psychic woo-woo, but this is what it can look like when you mess with it and actually wake it up without guidance. It is real and there is a science behind it, though results may vary. Since the culture around me had no framework for it nor would they accept the fact that I was having a profound spiritual experience, the whole thing was extremely disturbing for all involved. I later learned that this actually happens quite often and I was not so special. Had I been somewhere that appreciated or even had an inkling of what was going on then things may have been different and the experience may have been integrated into a profound and new sense of self ( I suggest John White’s compendium for a look at this complex topic). But unfortunately it wasn’t in my bag to have this be a pleasant ride. After a couple of days in the mental ward they started to realize that I wasn’t really schizophrenic. I could play their games – I wasn’t crazy. I was just off the mark with the whole Jesus thing. Instead they told me to take some pills and that I was a manic depressive. But I didn’t like that either since I knew on some level that what happened was of some spiritual significance and they had no clue what they were doing or talking about. I still believe that on many levels. The more I talked to the mental patients the more I realized that somewhere in their life this connection to the divine ( what many often associate with "love") had gone wrong. Terribly wrong. That sense that we’re all connected was contorted and shriveled up in various complex ways but it was really that simple at the core and what all the doctors were missing. This is true for all of us, but especially so here. I started trying to help the people see the space around them and was by far the most outgoing and positive thing in that place. The patients even started to see what I was saying and started to refuse their medicine along with me. That’s when the washed up football player looking ex-cocaine addict guy who was really a hospital spy pretending to be a patient warned me to stop causing trouble or I’d never get out. That’s when I realized that the ride was over as there was no room for compassion in this place – or even talk of it. The confines of our ego structures are so built into society and are so afraid to be messed with that it is a frightening prospect.

I was released after a short while since once I learned that you just have to follow their standard societal rules to get out, it was quite a simple affair – unless you are actually crazy. But the experience had forever changed me. I had an unshakable faith in the words of the great masters and the fact that there is a soul apart from this body, yet I also had a lot of questions left unanswered. That’s when I started to study all the eastern paths as well as western paths with a fervor I had never known before. The scriptures all made so much more sense now, their words had real meaning for a change. It took me a long time to come back into my body properly by starting a hatha yoga regime and learning how to ground the energy. However, it was in Ram Dass’s “Be Here Now” where his brother is in a mental institution because he thinks he’s Jesus that tied it all together. Ram Dass reminds him that we’re all Jesus and there’s no reason to freak out about it. I had just wished I would have known earlier but was glad I wasn’t special or crazy at the same time and longed to return to that state of knowing again. It was also at this time that I had the most beautiful dream. I was walking on a hillside and there was a man in a long white cloth and long white beard up the way – very yogi-ish, though I still hadn’t seen a picture of a yogi like this in the books I had read up to that point. There were flowers everywhere and the colors were absolutely real and intense and I had the most peaceful and blissful feeling. It was everywhere. I kept walking towards this man until I came right up to him and stared him in the eyes as he smiled at me. All I could feel was happiness and joy coming out of him. It was intense and I was in a daze for days after. This was very real and not an ordinary dream by any means. It was only many years later after many teachers and travels later that I saw this man again on the cover of "This House is on Fire, the life of Sri Dhyanyogi" – my guru’s guru. But that’s a whole other story…

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